Motley Comes To IITK


When word spread that MOTLEY was putting up two plays at IITK, the campus community could not believe its luck. Everyone was familiar with Naseeruddin Shah's sensitive performances in films like “Nishant”, “Manthan”, “Sparsh”, “Katha”, “Masoom”, “A Wednesday”,etc. Those of us who had seen him on stage ( “Dear Liar”, “A Walk in the Woods” ), knew what a giant he was in the world of theatre. Ratna Pathak Shah too had made a name for herself on stage (“Dear Liar”), and in films (“Mandi”, “ Golmaal 3”) and had won the hearts of television viewers with her performance in serials like “ Sarabhai vs Sarabhai”. Heeba Shah had acted on stage,on television (“Balika Vadhu”) and in films (“Missed Call”) and it was evident that she had inherited her father's acting genes. And so, the campus waited with bated breath....

Pic: Motley


The first play, “EINSTEIN” was presented by Naseeruddin Shah. It was a superb collage of significant events, more personal than professional, in the life of Albert Einstein, the famous physicist. What struck everyone was not just Naseeruddin Shah's physical appearance – he looked and moved about exactly like Einstein (after the play, I overheard people wondering whether he'd worn a wig or whether it was his own hair – it looked so natural) but the authenticity of his accent and pronunciation. He sounded amazingly like a German speaking English ! The spontaneity with which he asked for two volunteers from among the spectators, belied the fact that this too was actually part of the play.We heard later that the volunteers were part of the Acting Workshop conducted at IITK by Naseeruddin Shah, in October and again now in March.

Pic: Motley


The second play. “ISMAT APA KE NAAM” was presented in three parts: “Chhui Muee” by Heeba Shah, “Mughal Bachcha” by Ratna Pathak Shah and “Gharwali” by Naseeruddin Shah. One expected a narration of Ismat Chughtai's short stories. But they were solo enactments in which each actor brought to life various characters in the story – male as well as female, young and old – with facial expressions, gestures, movements and intonation.All of us completely forgot that there was only one person at a time, on stage. Each actor got into the skin of different characters to perfection and succeeded in taking us on a journey to faraway places.

Pic: Motley


Ratna Pathak Shah, for example, gave us the impression that she was actually eating “paan” and removing bits of “supari” stuck in her teeth while in reality, she was only mimicking the act. Heeba Shah conjured up train passengers belonging to different social classes, by admirably modulating her voice to suit each character. Naseeruddin Shah portrayed the free-spirited Lajjo just as beautifully and naturally as he did her orthodox employer, Mirza. Both evenings were unforgettable experiences and we fervently hope MOTLEY will come back to IITK again and again.

The visit of Naseeruddin Shah and Motley was facilitated by the Artist-in-Residence program of IIT Kanpur.  The plays were staged on March 2 and 3, 2016 at the IIT Kanpur Auditorium.

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